Socialist Worker

Soldiers in silent revolt in Iraq

British troops say ‘get us out of here’ and US soldiers’ ‘fake patrols’

Issue No. 2075

British and US troops are turning away from confronting the Iraqi resistance – despite the rhetoric from Gordon Brown

and George Bush that they are “winning” the war.

Revelations from both British and US troops show that morale has plummeted and that soldiers are avoiding all encounters with anti-occupation forces.

A senior British commander told the Sunday Telegraph that since they withdrew from Basra this summer they have not once returned to the city. They patrol around their base at the airport, with the occasional forays to the Iranian border.

He admitted that the military and the resistance have struck a deal not to attack each other. The oil rich southern Iraqi city is now in the hands of rival resistance organisations.

One senior British officer said, “We are tired of firing at people. We would prefer to find a political accommodation.”

Other soldiers said they saw little point in fighting on. One captain admitted, “If we went into the city every night, we would still be doing it in ten years’ time.

“There is nothing the military can do any more without the backing of politicians, and no politician wants to touch Iraq with a barge pole. Having the military out here without political backing is pointless.”

If the British military is “officially” pulling back from the war, US troops are doing so unofficially.

In an echo of the Vietnam War, US troops told independent journalist Dahr Jamail that they run fake patrols and send false reports as part of a strategy of “search and avoid”.

One soldier, who had recently returned from Iraq, admitted, “Morale was incredibly low. Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan.

“We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralised, so we decided the only way we wouldn’t be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time.

“So we would go find an open field and park. Then we would call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine.

“All our enlisted people became very ­disenchanted with our chain of command.”

Another soldier said, “We’d go to the end of our patrol route and set up on top of a bridge and use it as an over-watch position. We would just sit with our binoculars and observe rather than sweep. We’d call in radio checks every hour and say we were doing sweeps.”

“It was a common tactic, a lot of people did that. We’d just hang out, listen to music, smoke cigarettes and pretend.”

A third soldier told Jamail, “One of my buddies is in Baghdad right now and we email all the time. He just told me that nearly each day they pull into a parking lot, drink soda, and shoot at the cans.

“They pay Iraqi kids to bring them things and spread the word that they are not doing anything and to please just leave them alone.”

For Dahr Jamail’s full report go to »

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